ACLU of CO Sues Federal and State Law Enforcement Agencies Over Illegal SWAT Raid on Family

Affiliate: ACLU of Colorado
February 20, 2002 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Colorado
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DENVER–The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a lawsuit today alleging that federal and state law enforcement agents violated the constitutional rights of a Pueblo family when they conducted an illegal SWAT-type raid on the family’s home with no warrant or other legal authority.
“”Once again, the war on drugs misses the target and instead scores a direct hit on the Constitution,”” said Mark Silverstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado. “”These government agents had no search warrant, no arrest warrant, and no lawful authority whatsoever. They carried out this armed home invasion in flagrant disregard of the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable searches and arrests without probable cause.””

According to the ACLU lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Dan and Rosa Unis and their two college-aged sons, on August 19, 2000, the family was peacefully enjoying the privacy of their home when “”black-masked, black-helmeted men brandishing automatic weapons and wearing all-black uniforms with no insignias suddenly burst into the house unannounced, kicked the family’s dog across the floor and ordered the entire family to “get on the fucking floor.”

Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) held the family at gunpoint while they searched the house. Although they found no drugs or contraband, the family’s two sons, Dave and Marcos, were taken away and imprisoned illegally and without charges.

The young men, age 19 and 22 at the time, spent two days in jail and then were released without charges, explanation, or apology.

According to the ACLU lawsuit, DEA agent Dave Saunders told the Unis family that CBI agent Pat A. Crouch was “”in charge of this operation,”” which the ACLU says was carried out by the Southern Colorado Drug Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional agency composed of officers from the Pueblo Police Department and the Pueblo Sheriff’s Department as well as the CBI and the DEA. The defendants in the lawsuit include Crouch and Saunders as well as several as-yet-unidentified officers of unknown law enforcement agencies.

The lawsuit, Unis v. Crouch, was filed in United States District Court in Denver.

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